The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has a brand new addition to its Campus Green this fall. On August 22, the College of Arts and Science’s opened building University Hal , bringing greenways and buildings together to connect people on the academic end of campus, as much as the sidewalks and streets.
“The rapid growth of our undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Arts and Sciences necessitated additional modern teaching facilities and technologies,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “This beautiful new facility will transform our educational areas in the college. The faculty, staff, leadership, students, community supporters, alumni and Board of Trustees worked together with us to make this project become a reality, and they are to be commended for their hard work to help provide this world-class, environmentally friendly and visually stunning educational facility.”
University Hall, designed by GMC and constructed in 18 months by M.J. Harris, showcases some of the best views on campus. The grand lobby encourages interaction and lends itself to meet-ups and conversations. Within the lobby is a larger-than-life display of Blaze’s flames. Showcased through a series of perforated metal panels, GMC designed the flames to give students, friends and family a chance to have their picture taken with the mascot.
The 110-square-foot facility now houses seven UAB College or Arts and Sciences departments including: anthropology, computer science, English, foreign languages and literatures, mathematics, philosophy, and social work — serving more than 50 percent of UAB students through one of its 29 majors and 19 departments.
One of the most notable features of the new building is the grand stair. It includes three levels and overlooks the Campus Green, providing an abundance of natural daylight and opportunities for interaction. At the beginning of the staircase holds a series of colorful terrazzo floor patterns, creating winding pathways that connect this beautiful addition to the rest of the building. These patterns resemble a dragon’s tail weaving through the halls and creatively express the spirit and culture of UAB.
University Hall is the first LEED-certified building on UAB’s campus and has beautiful campus views and features. The landscape features a bridge that crosses a bioswale — natural solutions to storm water management — integrating sustainability with the user experience. The tiered patios feature seated walls and furniture that overlook the bioswales and the heart of the Campus Green. There is also seating provided on the south patios under the Heritage Tree that was preserved throughout construction.
The building has ground entrances on two levels. There is an accessible ramp that allows access from the Campus Green elevation to the second-floor lobby entrance to provide multiple choices of paths. The auditorium, with just under 300 seats, is designed for lecture, theater practice and small performances, and serves as a storm shelter.
“Nearly every student will have class in University Hall, and our Facilities team did not lose sight of that significance during the process,” said Denton Lunceford, assistant vice president for Planning Design and Construction in the UAB Facilities Division. “The coordination between our team, the team in the College of Arts and Sciences, and our construction partners was crucial to constructing a building that will serve our campus long into the future. We’re proud of this building and what it means for our students, and we can’t wait to see it open this fall.”